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Homecoming Varsity Football Victory For Cougars Over Crusaders
Working to split the defense, Miguel Souza Jr. gets the ball and takes it upfield on Friday night against Modesto Christian, with teammate Garrett Nash, 11, coming in to assist. Marg Jackson/The Times

It was 7-0 before there was a minute gone in the game.

There was a running clock in the second half.

Modesto Christian came in with small numbers but played hard; however, they were no match for the host Escalon Cougars on Friday night, Oct. 4. By the time the final gun sounded at the end of the varsity football game, the Cougars had put up a 49-0 Homecoming victory over the Crusaders.

“Everybody got good minutes and at the end of the day, it’s still a Trans-Valley League victory, against a team that beat us last year,” said head coach Andrew Beam, satisfied with the performance, effort and outcome.

“Some of these guys have never beaten Modesto Christian and they came ready to play,” the coach added.

The Homecoming festivities throughout the week had the school and community spirit at a high level, with the players feeding off that energy.

“There was a lot of excitement that we were able to get everyone in, I was happy to see all the guys play well,” Beam said. “I could not believe how huge that crowd was, there was just lot of excitement, celebrating 100 years of Escalon High.”

The Cougars left no doubt which team was ready for the spotlight, as they cashed in early and often, running out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. It was 49-0 at the half and the game went to a running clock in the second half. That’s when Beam also started to rotate back-up quarterbacks Wyatt McCune and Clay Evans, each taking a few snaps at a time on drives to make sure they had time under center.

Offensively, Colton Panero had two carries for 98 yards and two touchdowns, both in the first quarter. The first one came less than a minute into the game, with the Cougars receiving the opening kickoff and moving the ball efficiently down the field.

Kaidence Trejo had two catches, each for a 79-yard scoring strike, with a pair of touchdowns for the night.

“EJ Lewis had his first catch and touchdown at the varsity level,” Beam added.

Bryan Hale and Kaden Christensen also added touchdowns in the second quarter.

“Defensively, we had nine total sacks on the evening, Jonathon Santos, our Ballout Belt winner for the night, had two sacks.”

Daniel Gonzalez, David Camacho, Damien Tom, Jacob Walden, Alonzo Teixeira, Jaden Fontes and Colton Panero each had one sack.

“Kaidence Trejo had an interception, Richard Erazo had a fumble recovery,” said Beam. “Shane Campbell had five tackles.”

For the Cougars, it was a night that saw them put up 537 total yards of offense. Modesto Christian had minus 11 yards rushing and 210 total offensive yards.

Escalon got a 33-yard touchdown run from Panero to start the scoring, followed by a touchdown catch for Lewis. Panero then went 65 yards for a touchdown, followed by Trejo’s first 79-yard catch and run for the score. In the second quarter, Christensen went 22 yards for the score, Trejo and Harris hooked up on another 79-yard scoring play, followed by a 32-yard run from Hale to cap the scoring. Garrett Nash forced a Crusaders fumble, recovered by Erazo, that led to the final touchdown of the night for the Cougars, coming with 3:12 left in the first half. Kicker Brayan Barrientos added the extra points.

“We were ready,” said Santos – also known as “Johnny Football” in the post-game huddle, explaining that the team wanted to get the win against Modesto Christian and make sure they celebrated Homecoming with friends and fans. “It was amazing.”

Clay Evans was happy to play a role as well, getting in some minutes on the field.

“The feeling you get,” he said of contributing to the win, “nothing compares to it.”

Hale agreed that one of the best parts of the game was seeing all players have the chance to take the field for the Homecoming contest.

“It felt good to get everyone involved,” he said.

Trejo, with two catches and two scores, said it came down to the Cougars working like a well-oiled machine.

“I’m just confident that my quarterback is going to put the ball in a good spot and I’ll do the rest,” Trejo said. “Last year we lost to them (Modesto Christian) 7-6 and we weren’t going to let that happen again this season.”

Escalon now gets ready to host Riverbank on Oct. 11, followed by a trip to Ripon for what is shaping up to be a crucial Trans-Valley League battle on Oct. 18.

Wrapping up the Crusaders ball carrier is Jacob Walden as teammate Demetrius Teixeira, 55, also rushes in. Marg Jackson/The Times